Long gone is the era of the fresh-faced, choreographed, teen-pop, boy band. One part folk, one part rock, a pinch of gospel and a dash of growl, Vancouver’s indie-rock band, Lion Bear Fox, is the epitome of the “man band”. They’re a bearded, plaid-clad trio, with gritty, honest songs and dynamic harmonies guaranteed to be your next most-played song.
Song writing and harmonies are their game. Lush acoustic guitars book-ended by buzzing electrics and howling organs; all tied together by rich percussion and three voices in harmony – and they’re bringing it all to Arts Whistler Live! Wednesday, March 15, at the Arts Centre.
Originally known for their respective solo careers, Christopher Arruda (Lion), Ryan McMahon (Fox), and Cory Woodward (Bear) formed Lion Bear Fox in 2012 and were immediately selected as one of the top 20 unsigned bands in BC through the Peak Performance Project. Listen to their latest self-titled album and it’s easy to see why.
With the help of producer Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run), the trio spent ten days in the Vancouver Island wilderness tapping into their respective spirit animals and crafting the “the record of their lives” – because that’s what cool, bearded men do.
Currently on tour promoting their new album, we caught Lion Bear Fox ahead of their performance at the Folk Alliance Festival in Kansas City, to talk about their experience making the album and some advice for artists looking to break into the music industry:
What has the process been like for you leading up to the release of your new album Lion Bear Fox? What can listeners expect from the album?
“We’ve certainly never been busier! The three of us all agree that we’ve never attempted to release an album into the ether quite like this before…with the true intent of being as loud as possible, so it’s been exciting. Anyone who gives the record a spin will hear three voices filled with hope that have attempted to make the record of a lifetime. It’s something we’re not bashful about. We got together with a great producer to release nine of the best songs any of us had ever written, and hopefully people connect with what we’ve laid down.”
How did you each come to identify with your spirit animal – Christopher (Lion), Cory (Bear), Ryan (Fox)?
“Cory initially came up with the concept, as he is Metis, and Bear is his spirit animal. Christopher had long identified with Lion imagery in his solo songs and is ferocious onstage. Not to mention he has a large lion tattoo adorning his chest. We came up with the Fox for me, initially due to to my wily nature and overall good looks. Over time, I’ve been told that foxes are healers, which I’ve really been happy to attach to my moniker. That’s why we’re all doing this, right? To make everybody in the room feel good.”
If you could choose your ideal festival lineup to be a part of, what other bands or artists would you want to share the stage with?
“Great question! We all have different influences, and are moved by many different kinds of music. To name a few, Father John Misty, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, and Chris Staples.”
When did you take the leap to make music as a career? How did you make that move?
“Again, that’s different for all of us. For myself, I haven’t had a proper ‘straight job’ that I went to from 9-5 since about 2008. I reached a point where I had the unwavering support of my wife, and we both just dove in 100%. I focused solely on music, but treated it like a normal job; getting up at 7am every day, drinking lots of coffee, and emailing venue owners across the country to get as much work as I could. Once we all invested more into our music careers, our music careers began to invest more in us, ya know? There is nothing easy about choosing this vocation. The late nights and the time away from our kids gets cumbersome, but the three of us are extremely lucky to have the support of our families, as well as each other.”
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into the music industry?
“Love the process, and don’t look for the payoffs right away. Personally, 2017 marks my 20th year since my first paid gig, and it’s been one crazy journey, filled with extremely gratifying highs, mixed with some devastating lows. Play lots, find your own voice, and serve the song. Listen to as many folks that have been there/done that as you can.”
What other artists are you into right now?
“Not to be confused with the also-great Chris Stapleton, we’ve been listening to Chris Staples, who has extremely charming and well-written stuff. Dylan LeBlanc also has released a stunningly good album.”
What’s next for you guys? What are you working towards?
“Our goal is to continue working towards taking these songs to as many new audiences as possible. We’ve got a gig at Tonder Festival in Denmark this summer, as well as some closer-to-home dates in BC and Alberta in June which we’ll be announcing soon.”
These guys are definitely the Canadian band to watch. Described by Nanaimo Daily news as “a musical force of nature”, Lion Bear Fox brings their honest lyrics and gripping, dynamic songs to Arts Whistler Live! for a show you won’t want to miss.
Connect with Lion Bear Fox:
Check out their latest album Lion Bear Fox on iTunes
Author: Jillian van der Geest